Newness Of Life

The good news of God’s kingdom is that through Christ He is always doing a new work, and in Christ He is making all things new. For that which is old is passed away, and that which is passed away can sustain no man in the ongoing work of God. The Lord walks onward, calling men to “Follow Me,” and gives little time to the hesitant.

Only an abiding movement in He who abides forever, the Word of the Lord, even the Son of God, is able to keep us walking in His newness; “For behold,” He says: “I do a new thing… Behold: I make all things new.”

A race is not finished or won by simply acknowledging that the finish line is already behind us at the starting point, and so we need not run. He who does not run the race to cross the “it is finished” line for himself is disqualified. The Spirit will not empower the pilgrim who desires no progress. The doctrine of our faith reveals itself vain in a life which possesses not the faith itself to manifest the ready obedience of one who loves God and the brethren. Our participation in the Body and Blood of Christ is not merely passive but also active. The same Apostle Paul who used the illustration of a race is also he who wrote, “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth…” There is a Rest into which we fail to enter apart from striving to enter into it. There is a spiritual maturity, or even true Life itself, that may be left untouched for a lifetime by being content with what is behind. In Paul’s case, those things were mostly religious credentials, and what men tend to perceive as spiritual acumen worthy of praise. No doubt these also became even his accomplishments as an apostle of Christ.

The Greek word Paul uses for “forgetting” means…

Forgetting.

Things which are forgotten are things which have no bearing upon a man’s decisions going forward; and hold not even a peripheral sway over his lightest considerations. He who forgets is free of the things forgotten. He who cannot walk as though former things are forgotten has not fully dealt with the matters of his inner heart before the Lord. Whether they be matters of outright sin or matters of pride in a good spiritual estate; the Lord would have every man walk with humble simplicity in what is newly set before their feet by the light of the Spirit.

The man who continually deals with God in all his inner motives, thoughts, and intentions remains a free vessel, at liberty for honorable use in God’s house. The man who neglects the stewarding of his own heart becomes unable to contain the ever new wine of the vintage of Life, and fades into a life of paralysis and defeat.

The still and quiet whispers of the Spirit of Christ are the invitation into a broader walk in the true calling of each one. Let every heart hear and walk after He who calls them.

Elect In His Calling

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
1 Peter 1:1-2 (ESV)

The election of the saints is according to something, in something, and for something; all of which things play out in this present time upon the earth.

These are not theoretical matters, but living and consequential matters: each one of the three proceeding from God Himself with the intent and power to find their fulfillment by the obedience of faith in the elect ones.


Elect “According To”


“…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…”

The first of these three is the only sure fountain of the other two. If we do not appreciate the humbling enormity of what this election, or this choosing, is “according to,” then we rob the subsequent matters of their true source of power.

For if God’s electing grace was according to our own choosing, then He should still be waiting for our dead souls to impossibly come alive and choose. But praise be to God! That while we were yet dead in our trespasses and sins, He made us alive: so that we might see, with eyes of a faith once unattainable, the grace of God bestowed upon us in a predestinating love that conforms us to the image of His Son!

That God foreknew is not a theological term for divine time travel. God did not peer helplessly along the parade of souls through time, hoping to see if there were many who decided to believe in Him. The prophets indeed tell us what God sees when He looks upon fallen man: “And there was no man to intercede.” Men have altogether failed to intercede, even on behalf of their own souls. And how could they? For they are not able to please Him, being without the gift of faith, the seed of His Life, in them.

That God forknew the elect means that He KNEW THEM before their time. It is a term of the longing and loving relationship of the Shepherd who seeks out the one lost sheep of the hundred, laying down His very Life for it. The Life-giving call goes out, and His lost sheep awaken to hear His voice, responding with cries for help.

Later on (v.3), Peter will say that according to this abundant mercy, we have been caused to be born again “to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” A living hope! A tangible hope! This means that the subsequent sanctification of the Spirit also comes from God, and not from ourselves. It is God’s power by which we are being gaurded through faith for the revealing of this ever-unfolding salvation until the Last Day (v.4-7).


Elect “In”


“…in the sanctification of the Spirit…”

The relational foreknowing of God, once having planted its seed, is meant to produce the fruit of the same Spirit by whose power we have been generated from above. It is at this point of contact with our lives that the electing and calling will of God tests the soil of the heart of a man. It is here that the seed will germinate and become fruitful, or wither.

It is here that the birds of the air will consume the seed if the soil of the heart is hard and unreceptive to its manner of dying. It is here that the heat will scorch it for lack of depth and root, though it spring up quickly at first. It is here that thorns and thistles will choke it out unless resilient growth displaces them.

And in that parable of the soils is also seen the progression of growth based upon how those three bad soils failed to receive the seed: hardness of heart in the first case, lack of depth in the second, and worldly cares in the third. Whereas, the pattern of growth is as follows: first, the heart softening to recieve the Seed which died and now lives, that it may spring up anew; second, the newly softened ground giving way to greater depth of root; and third, depth of root producing a resilient and fruitful planting – a tree which the birds of the air rest in the shade of, the sun cannot scorch, and the thorns and thistles have no effect upon.

Such is the work of the Spirit of God in a heart that keeps its First Love, surrendering to His mighty work. It is not for lack of His powerful working that we have no power; it is rather for our lack of abiding faith in He who continually works powerfully in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. The three bad soils are so easily emulated in us – and the elect saint must vigilantly fight these conditions of the heart if Christ is to be fully formed in it.

The saints (Gk. holy ones) are elect in the santification of the Spirit.

“In” – it is a matter of abiding. Holy ones are those who do not allow their garments to remain defiled if they become stained. Therefore, we are later exhorted by Peter to be found confirming our calling and election; because continual repentance keeps the elect in the sanctification of the Spirit, by which their true obedience is made possible.


Elect “For”


“…for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood…”

This third matter of the elect’s calling is inseperably twofold.

There can be no true obedience – the obedience undefiled by selfish motives – unless the heart from whence it proceeds is already being purified by a worthy sacrifice. If even the prescribed sacrifices of the old covenant were in themselves unable to perfect those drawing near to God, nor could they cleanse the conscience, nor actually take away sins; how much more inadequate then are the sacrifices of which our own vain minds conceive in our pitiful attempts to enter the holy court of God.

Therefore the writer to the Hebrews said,

For by one offering He has perfected the carrying through of the ones being sanctified.
Hebrews 10:14 (LITV)

Those who are being sanctified are being “carried through” into the holy of holies: not by God deceiving Himself and merely hiding our sins from before His face; but rather by we no longer deceiving ourselves, and He actually taking away our sins as we behold His face.

The matter therefore once again comes down to the substance of our faith: what our hands and feet proclaim to be our hope, and what our path testifies to be our vision. The blood of Jesus is that by which our faith is fully assured, and that which sprinkles our hearts from an evil conscience, and that which washes even our body as in pure water to walk in the obedience of a living faith.
To enter the holiest place is to enter as a living sacrifice upon an altar. To remain in the holiest place is to remain and increasingly embody an intercessory posture.

Earlier I noted how the unregenerate man has no intercessory ability (or desire, truly). But those who are elect by God’s will in the santification of the Spirit are brought into an obedience that is a life of intercession on behalf of the body of which they are now becoming an integral member. The obedience to Jesus and the sprinkling with His blood is what they are now purposed “for,” as priests in His living temple, ministering unto God.

As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:4-5 (ESV)


“So great is the office for which God hath appointed them, and which it is not lawful for them to decline.”
– Author Unknown, to “Diognetus”
[circa 130AD~200s AD]


Quote – To Diognetus

“So great is the office for which God hath appointed them (the Christians), and which it is not lawful for them to decline.”
– Author Unknown, to “Diognetus”
[circa 130AD~200s AD]

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election…
2 Peter 1:10 (ESV)

Neglect It Not: Intercession

Neglect not the gift that is in thee…
1 Timothy 4:14

Being that each of God’s own is gifted for and called to a specific purpose, to neglect exercising said giftings and callings is in large part to neglect one’s walk with God. To neglect a known spiritual gifting is to deny the Lord’s goodness, and to neglect a known calling is to walk without faith.

The giftings and callings of God are irrevocable (Rom 11:29), and they carry with them great necessity to be continually walked in; so great that, if once their fruits have been even a little tasted, yet then they are not exercised, their knowledge haunts and condemns in heart the one to whom they are given: and though he still walk with God somewhat, he renders himself a less honorable servant, and knows it.

And this is especially the case with the man who is called particularly to intercession (in prayer and/or in deed); for the nature of his gifts and calling are a burden in themselves: therefore the neglecting of them amidst the bitterness of this earthly life is double the burden – and that without the assurance of hope or any inward joy.

This more than any other spiritual calling is to be likened to the laboring of childbirth: the child must be born, if it is not already concieved. The inward secret cry of the one whom the Lord has so burdened ever cries with Rachel, “Give me children, or else I die!” (Genesis 30). And the heart which has learned purity of intercession does not seek to fulfill its desire according to the flesh, as Rachel did at first; but rather persists for the heavenly gift as Hannah did, and likewise dedicates the fruit of its victory to the Lord (1Samuel 1).

Intercession is the most blessed calling of the whole of Christ’s body on behalf of its every member. It is for some members to bear in heavier ways than others; but it is still to a degree for all, in the simplicity of the giving of oneself for the good of another.

For I want you to know what a great conflict [Gk. ἀγών: “race, contest, agony”] I have for you…
Colossians 2:1 (NKJV)

For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict [Gk. ἀγών] which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
Philippians 1:29-31 (NKJV)

The Holy Spirit’s Longing

The immensity and depth of the anointing into which the Holy Spirit longs to baptize God’s children is such that words too holy to be spoken, songs too holy to be sung, and deeds to holy to be done might yet be able to become spoken and sung and done through we as His broken vessels – if we only will allow ourselves to be so shattered by His revelation to us. He would put a new song in our mouths, if only we stopped using them to make excuses.

True Religion

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
James 1:26-27

The religion toward which every man’s heart is naturally drawn is characterized by a boasting in his own spirituality through the outward show of lofty words, and even lovely deeds, while inwardly there dwells secret depravity unchecked. But true religion in the sight of God is characterized by the golden harmony of authentic selflessness and personal holiness.

There is a sureity of tongue that is born not of holy confidence, but of arrogance; and yet there is also a self-deprication that is born not of humility, but of sinful pride.
The spiritual worship that is to be the very walk of every child of God is a daily offering of life to receive Life; it is the fragrance of holy conduct born of the fear of the Lord’s mercy. For he in whom the demerrited mercy of God does not invoke a reverence unto obedience has not known God.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1

To “worship in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:24) is seen in a selfless and holy life; to be authentically selfless only flows from the shattering recognition of the mercy of God; and to be truly holy is in a sense to be wholly true – which is to be without mixture in one’s dealings before the eyes of He who is all-knowing.

How, therefore, does the selfish man walk humbly, and the sinner live holy? By the application of the cross to every facet of his life and being, spirit soul and body. He to whom the cross of Christ truly applies will bear his own cross also. And it is this bearing of the cross which promises the abundant entrance into the heavenly kingdom. In the urgency of such a life in God, there is found the foretaste of eternal rest; and in the overcoming obedience of such a faith, there runs a trust which takes hold of a purely God-ward contentment.

“The truly religious man does everything as if everything depends on himself, and then leaves everything as if everything depended on God.”
– Joseph Parker

Quote – Paul Washer

Perhaps the greatest lie in evangelical Christianity today is that if you “ask Jesus into your heart,” He will most definitely come in.
– Paul Washer

You have not chosen Me, but I chose you out and planted you, that you should go and should bear fruit, and your fruit remain, that whatever you should ask the Father in My name, He may give you.
John 15:16